Controversial laws to calm dissent are lifted in more parts of the country, but restrictions remain in the capital.
|Critics of the emergency law say that the inability of red shirts to protest could lead to further conflict [AFP]|
The Thai government has extended the state of emergency imposed on Bangkok and three surrounding provinces for three more months.
“The cabinet agreed to extend the state of emergency in four provinces, including Bangkok, for another three months starting today,” Suphachai Jaismut, a government spokesman, said on Tuesday.
The measures came into force in April when at least 90 people were killed and almost 2,000 injured in clashes between the military and the anti-government red shirts.
The laws were lifted in some parts of the country last Friday after the government came under pressure from the US and human rights activists to roll back the emergency powers.
Among other things, the powers include the right given to security forces to detain suspects for 30 days without charge.
In recent weeks Bangkok has been hit by a string of grenade blasts, including an attack on the attorney general’s office and a bombing in a residential area that wounded three.
The red Shirts deny any involvement in the blasts and have accused the government of a conspiracy to justify greater powers for authorities. The government argues that widespread restrictions on dissent remain essential for keeping the peace.
Critics assert that the government crackdown, which ranges from arrests to the censoring of thousands of websites, could provoke more unrest by deepening grievances.
Jacob Ramsay, a senior Southeast Asia analyst at Control Risks, a strategic consulting firm based in Britain, said: “Thailand is in uncharted territory and the government’s response to dissent could lead to a bolder display of resistance … It’s a vicious cycle.”